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Davy Jones's lock-up
The Economist ^ | Dec 17, 2009 | Unknown

Posted on 12/18/2009 5:43:16 PM PST by decimon

A SHIPWRECK is a catastrophe for those involved, but for historians and archaeologists of future generations it is an opportunity. Wrecks offer glimpses not only of the nautical technology of the past but also of its economy, trade, culture and, sometimes, its warfare. Until recently, though, most of the 3m ships estimated to be lying on the seabed have been out of reach. Underwater archaeology has mainly been the preserve of scuba divers. That has limited the endeavour to waters less than 50 metres deep, excluding 98% of the sea floor from inspection. Even allowing for the tendency of trading vessels to be coasters rather than ocean-going ships, that limits the number of wrecks available for discovery and examination.

Moreover, shallow-water shipwrecks are often damaged. Storms reach down to affect them. Seaweeds and corals, which need light to grow, colonise them. Freelance divers, seeking salvage rather than knowledge, despoil them. Archaeologists do sometimes team up with people who have access to miniature submarines (some manned, some unmanned) to explore deeper waters. But such expeditions are expensive—a million dollars a pop is not untypical—and archaeology is not a well-resourced profession. Often, these expeditions are privately financed, speculative ventures which amount to little more than treasure-hunting.

Modern robotics, however, is changing this. A new generation of cheap, free-swimming, automatic underwater vehicles (AUVs) is being developed. Past minisubs have needed a lot of backup and, if unmanned, have had to be guided by signals passing down tethers. Their mother-ships have thus had to be fitted out specially, which is one reason for the expense. An AUV, by contrast, can be dropped into the ocean and left to fend for itself. A wider range of vessels can thus support it.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: History
KEYWORDS: arthurcclarke; chios; godsgravesglyphs
Via SunkenCiv
1 posted on 12/18/2009 5:43:17 PM PST by decimon
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To: decimon; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; ...

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Thanks decimon. My evening plans fell through, so I've never left the house after all. I'm going to leave in five minutes though, and, uh, move my car. Yeah, then it won't be as if I just sat in front of the computer all night...

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach

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2 posted on 12/18/2009 6:38:17 PM PST by SunkenCiv (My Sunday Feeling is that Nothing is easy. Goes for the rest of the week too.)
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To: SunkenCiv

Dang, and here I thought it was going to be about the legend of Davy Jones...

3 posted on 12/18/2009 7:12:56 PM PST by Peanut Gallery (The essence of freedom is the proper limitation of government.)
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To: Peanut Gallery

Hey hey, he’s a sunk-ey.

4 posted on 12/18/2009 7:15:10 PM PST by SunkenCiv (My Sunday Feeling is that Nothing is easy. Goes for the rest of the week too.)
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To: decimon
Modern robotics, however, is changing this.

It's about time...ancient robotics was the pits.

5 posted on 12/18/2009 9:18:06 PM PST by Rudder (The Main Stream Media is Our Enemy---get used to it.)
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